Newsbrief: Actress's Marijuana Bust Challenge Causing Waves in South Korea 10/22/04

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Korean police may have made a tactical error when they arrested actress Kim Pu-Son on marijuana possession charges this summer. Kim was quickly sentenced to two years probation under Korea's 2000 narcotics law, but the feisty actress has appealed, arguing that the law is unconstitutional -- and is getting support from leading Korean drug experts, the Korea Times reported Tuesday.

Under Korean law, marijuana is treated as a narcotic drug, but Kim has challenged that law, saying it does not reflect reality. "Current law prescribing marijuana as a narcotic is unconstitutional, and banning marijuana is in violation of the right to pursue happiness," Kim claimed during a media briefing after filing the petition. She vowed to go on to the Constitutional Court if her appeal is rejected by lower courts, she added.

One of Korea's leading drug experts, Jeon Kyoung-soo, president of the Drug-Related Criminology Institute, told the Korea Times Kim was correct. "Scientifically, marijuana is just marijuana, a plant, as ginseng is just ginseng. It is neither a narcotic nor an addictive drug according to international agreements," he said. That makes the law problematic, he said. "Marijuana contains mild hallucinogenic properties, but its side effects are smaller than that of other narcotics such as methamphetamine (sic). The punishment should be different for those smoking marijuana and those taking other narcotics," Jeon said.

The solution, Jeon said, may be to create a separate category within the drug laws to govern hallucinogens, which would include marijuana. "A growing number of scholars claim marijuana should be excluded from the list of narcotics," Jeon said. "They recommend such a move through seminars and hearings with the institution."

The Korea Times article appeared under the headline, "Debates Mount Over Marijuana Ban." Yes, let the debates mount.

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Issue #359, 10/22/04 Editorial: Twenty Years? | California Initiative to Rein-In Three-Strikes Law Appears Headed for Victory | English Drug Reformers Map Route to Post-Prohibition Drug Policy | In California Senate Race, Judge Jim Gray Gets No Respect from Media, Polls, or Debates, Despite Strong Showing | DRCNet Book Review: "15 To Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom," by Tony Papa with Jennifer Wynn Feral House Press, $22.95 HB) | A Message from the Executive Director on What DRCNet is Planning After Election Day and Why We Need Your Help | Newsbrief: Kerry Says Feds Should Butt Out of Oregon Laws | Newsbrief: Alaska Marijuana Initiative Backers Sue Lieutenant Governor Over Election Pamphlet | Newsbrief: Bush, Kerry, Nader Respond to HEA Query | Newsbrief: African-American Professional Groups Form Coalition to Change Drug Policies | Newsbrief: Federal Judge Rules Cops Can Lie on the Stand | Newsbrief: End of Opium Cultivation Spells Looming Disaster for Burmese Peasants | Newsbrief: Three Dead in Peru Coca Confrontation -- Cocaleros Occupy Buildings in Provincial City | Newsbrief: Dutch Medical Marijuana Program Runs Up Against Law of the Market | Newsbrief: Actress's Marijuana Bust Challenge Causing Waves in South Korea | Newsbrief: Canadian Government to Reintroduce Marijuana Reform Bill, But Adds Driver Drug Testing, Too | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | This Week in History | The DARE Generation Returns to DC: Students for Sensible Drug Policy 2004 National Conference Next Month | Apply Now to Intern at DRCNet! | Administrative Assistant: Part-Time Job Opportunity at DRCNet | The Reformer's Calendar

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